Manual lymphatic drainage is a very gentle type of massage that incorporates light, slow strokes to help drain excess fluids from the lymph system. Doctors often recommend this technique after a surgery or an injury to improve the overall functioning of the lymphatic (immune) system.
Lymphatic massage is also a key treatment for lymphedema. Lymphedema is fluid retention and swelling – often in the arms – following certain cancer treatments that affect the lymph nodes. Lymphedema can be caused by lymph node removal, surgery or radiation therapy. It is common in women following treatment for breast cancer. While there is no cure for lymphedema, many women find that lymphatic massage reduces the swelling in their arm to manageable levels.
In the Sutter Health network, massage therapists are certified and specially trained to provide lymphatic massage. If you are undergoing cancer treatment, ask your doctor if you might benefit from lymphatic massage.